On Saturday, July 24th, the NASCAR Whelen All American Series, after a two-week summer break, roared back into action with the Western Late Models in Twin 40s, Grand American Modifieds, Street Stocks, Bombers, and Basically-4-Cylinders.
In front of a crowd of nearly 1900, and in front of thirteen other Western Late Models, Roseville’s Zane Lovelace (46), put together another great run on his way to his second Win of the year at the Speedway. The first Twin got underway with Lovelace starting straight-up on pole and third-generation driver and Defending Division Champ Justin Philpott (05) of Tracy pacing the field to greet the green. Philpott got the great jump out front where he would stay, despite the constant gnawing at his back bumper by Lovelace, until lap 22 when the misfortunes of war came raining down on him in the form of carburetor woes which forced him to duck and cover into the pits bringing his first twin to an untimely end and also bringing with him the first and only caution period of the race. On the lap 22 restart, Lovelace proved he was the hungriest on this night as he chewed away at the asphalt until there was nothing left but the checkered flag and the sweet smell of Victory. “It was awesome to win out here tonight,” the gracious young Lovelace said, then added, “You know, I have to give credit where credit is due and these races are won or lost in the shop, these guys all do such a great job and make it happen.” 2007 State Champion and Former Track Champion Mark Holeman (21) of Los Altos, as he always does, ran a very clean and solid race finishing second. Points Leader Chad Holman (9) of Manteca moved up from P7 on the starting grid to finish on the podium in third. Mr. Everything, the Legendary Dave Byrd (78) of Seaside, in a Rod Qualls car, brought her home fourth with Rookie Michael Sandoval (17) of Ripon rounding out the top five.
In the second WLM Twin, Trevor Schlundt 28) of Clovis started on pole and went wire to wire for his second Win on the year. This one got up to speed with Schlundt filling the number one slot and Rookie Michael Sandoval (17) of Ripon filling P2. This one was a no-brainer as the green flag dropped and Schlundt took immediate command of the territory up front with the rest of the field in tow. The race was slowed only once on lap 5 when debris came off the #46 of First-Twin Winner Zane Lovelace’s car and came to rest in the groove in turn two. On the restart, Schlundt resumed control where he would go, not virtually, but completely unmolested to the checkers for his second wire to wire and his second Win of the year. Sandoval looked very strong in second, but Schlundt proved to be the one to beat and Sandoval would complete the forty laps in second. Lovelace moved up from P6 on the grid to finish on the podium in third which concluded another great night at the Speedway for the very likable young man. Points Leader Chad Holman (9) of Manteca had a pretty good night as well finishing this one up in fourth and retaining his Points Lead by a not-so-comfortable spread. Mark Holeman (21) of Los Altos rounded out the top five.
In the Grand American Modified Division, Ryan Stepps (98) of Concord, NC stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park for his first-ever Win at Stockton. Stepps started on pole and paced the field to green with Kyle Dickerson (14) of alongside and along for the ride as was Points Leader AJ Ryder (63) of Stockton. Stepps led from the drop of the green and was never displaced out front as he went flag to flag to notch his first Modified Victory in his short history at the storied venue. However, Stepps is certainly no stranger to Victory Lane being a six-time IMCA Champion at Lowes Motor Speedway. Dickerson held on to finish second after battling throughout the race with Ryder, who finally had to settle on a very close third.
Points Leader Sammy Solari (79) of Escalon proved once again why he’s King of the Castle in the Street Stocks as he cruised to his eighth Victory of the year. Because of the six-car invert appointed beforehand, Dennis “The Menace” Saunders (91) of Modesto started P1 on the grid with Rookie Ben Lewis II (22) of Stockton at his side. When the green went flying Saunders grabbed the early lead and held tight until lap 7 when Lewis pulled low for the pass bringing Points Leader Sammy Solari (79) of Escalon along, chewing at his back bumper, for the short ride. And, indeed, the ride was short, but not for Solari when on lap 14 he laid claim to that all-majestic real estate out front where no one would be able to mount a crusade against him as his crossed beneath the flags of Victory for his eighth Win on the Season. “It was slicing and dicing out there tonight,” said the always confident Solari, “We barely had it and we barely pulled it off and I got my first trophy.” Jason Aguirre (45) of Atwater, and a great addition to Stockton 99 Speedway this year, finished, pinching at Solari’s bumper across the finish line, in second. Lewis slipped back only slightly and still managed a podium finish in third. Robert Daniel (17) of Lodi, a very pleasant surprise this Season, came home fourth with Livermore’s Mark Squadrito (3), whom always seems to fly in stealth mode until he pops-up on the radar late in races, making up the top five.
Robbie Knittel (003) of Lodi continued his mid-season dominance in the Bomber Division by Winning number three of his Rookie Season. A coin was flipped and whoever called it lost because these guys and gals would be turning right tonight in their thirty lap romp. Stockton drivers David Grimes (810) and Points Leader Travis Tucker (350) got this one going from the front row with Tucker grabbing the holeshot into turn one when his hotrod began pouring smoke out the back and coming down the back-stretch on lap 2, Lodi Rookie Brandon Jones (33) convincingly overtook the #810, but the one and only yellow flag went flying as the Grimes’ car came to rest against the turn four wall putting a quick end to his night. On the restart, Jones continued where he had left off until lap 9 when Knittel drove his way into the picture and Jones had no choice but to succumb to the intense pressure and dropped back a spot to second. And, if you were lucky enough to be one of the fans in the stands, you witnessed some absolutely stunning racing over the next twenty-one laps as Knittel and Jones swapped the lead no less than six times until the final lap when Knittel rose supreme by crossing beneath the checkers a mere half car in front of Jones who had to settle for what was probably an extremely exciting, but at the same time, disappointing second place run. “It was a fun race,” said the young second generation driver, “I had to pass him (Jones) a few times here and there, but we ran a good race side-by-side for what, twenty-one laps. It was cool.” Tucker held on to finish third and retain his Points Lead, but only by the slimmest of margins. Stockton’s Tom Dahl (004) had yet another stead run finishing just off the podium in fourth with Fast Freddy Rathjen Jr. (290), also of Stockton, rounding out the top five.
The Basically-4-Cylinder Division was back in action and Andy Rumsey (101) of Stockton came back with a vengeance to Win back the one that got away. Stockton’s own Kelli Bobbitt (61) started inside, front row with Points Leader JD Silva (56) of Modesto on his right door handle. This adventure got up and running with Bobbitt grabbing the early lead only to relinquish it on lap 4 when Rodney Lopez (16) from parts unknown, powered by to stake his claim on the front row bringing with him a very ambitious Rumsey. And Rumsey didn’t take too long to take control of this race as coming around to lap 5, it was all his for the taking. And, take he did, all the way to a full straightaway lead through to the checkers in dominating fashion for his first Win at the Speedway. Lopez had a solid run finishing up in second with Modesto’s always impressive Larry Toon (88) on the podium in third. Defending Division Champ Richard Hull (23) of Modesto brought her home fourth while Bobbitt fell off a bit but still pulled off a top five.
Next Saturday, July 31st, 99 Drift Competition comes skidding back to the track along with the Stockton 99 Speedway Swap Meet & Car Show.
The New Stockton 99 Speedway is located at 4105 N. Wilson Way, ¼-mile west of Highway 99. For more information on tickets and times, please contact the Speedway Office at (209)466-9999 or visit their Website at www.stockton99.com.
The New Stockton 99 Speedway is sponsored by Jackson Rancheria Casino Hotel, California Welding Supply, Budweiser, Alamo Alarm and Lodi Hampton Inn and Suites.